Singin' In the Rain appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Across the board, the movie offered a strong presentation.
Overall definition was good. Did Rain deliver consistently razor-sharp imagery? No – it could look a smidgen soft at times.
However, that wasn’t unusual for Technicolor productions, so the light softness matched what I expected of the format. Clarity was good at worst even with those instances, so I felt pleased with sharpness.
Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and edge haloes remained absent. I saw good natural grain structure and no obvious signs of noise reduction. The movie showed no examples of speckles, grit, or other defects during this clean presentation.
Colors looked absolutely lovely, with some genuinely eye-popping hues at times. Rain was a bright and peppy movie and the disc often showed off these hues to great effect.
As usual with Technicolor, skin tones could be a little brown, but the vivacity of other tones more than compensated, as the hues were usually delightful. The disc’s HDR added dimensionality and range to the hues.
Black levels appeared consistently strong, with deep and rich dark tones. Shadow detail seemed clear, with appropriate opacity but no signs of excessive heaviness.
HDR brought impact to whites and contrast. Rain looked great in this satisfying presentation.
The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack slightly opened up the original monaural audio. The soundstage presented the songs with mild stereo separation, and the score also spread modestly to the rear channels on occasion.
Other than that, however, the track remained largely monaural as far as I could tell, as I heard few instances in which any audio other than music emanated from the side and surround speakers. Some crowd noise at parties or premieres broadened to the sides in a moderate manner.
And you know what? That's fine with me. I liked the fact that the track broadened the music but kept the rest of the sound fairly true to the original.
Audio quality appeared fine for the era. Dialogue was a little thin and tinny but seemed clear and intelligible throughout the film; it displayed no signs of edginess or roughness.
Effects were clean and acceptably realistic without any distortion. The music appeared a bit too bright with only minor bass response, but it largely sounded acceptable.
Background noise wasn’t an issue. This wasn’t a great track, but it seemed satisfactory for its age.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2012 Blu-ray? Audio appeared identical, as both came with the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.
One bonus: although the Blu-ray lost the movie’s original monaural soundtrack, the 4K restored it – and in lossless DTS-HD glory!
Expect a nice uptick with the visuals of Rain, as the 4K brought superior delineation, colors and blacks. This was an impressive upgrade.
Visuals showed the expected step up from the Blu-ray. The 4K UHD gave us more dynamic colors as well as superior definition. Although I felt pleased with the BD, the 4K UHD delivered a more satisfying presentation.
On the 4K disc, we find an audio commentary from co-director Stanley Donen, screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann, film historian Rudy Behlmer, and actors Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, and Kathleen Freeman. Hosted by Reynolds, the edited track combines remarks from separately recorded interviews.
At times these reflect on the action we see onscreen, but much of the time the participants cover other related subjects. I like that format, but some folks hate it, so if you fall into the latter category, enter this commentary forewarned.
Overall, I feel the track offers a lot of good information. Not surprisingly, historian Behlmer - the veteran of many excellent commentaries - gives us the highest amount of concrete facts. He tosses out a great deal of useful material that helps us to understand how this classic got to the screen.
The others contribute more personal recollections, and they generally do so well. We hear about how O’Connor created his solo number and how Kelly ran Reynolds ragged to get her dancing up to snuff. Comden and Green also relate the manner in which they came up with the story. All that and much more appears in this light and lively piece.
I do have one major complaint about this commentary: the nature of Reynolds’ involvement in it. She hosts the track, which means she mainly identifies each speaker.
Reynolds tosses in a few minor remarks about the production, but she adds no other information. All of her factoids seem generic and not specific to her participation.
This appears bizarre, as Reynolds was one of the film’s lead performers, yet she tells us absolutely nothing about her experiences in it. Cyd Charisse reveals more about Reynolds’ work than Debbie herself does!
Whose brilliant idea was it to use one of the movie’s stars in a strictly introductory capacity? Brad Pitt acted as the host of the commentary for the old Criterion Se7en laserdisc, but he still provided his own remarks as well, and that same motif should’ve occurred here.
In addition to the film’s trailer, the included Blu-ray copy provides a documentary called Singin’ in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation. It runs 50 minutes, 43 seconds and includes notes from Behlmer, Glee choreographer/producer Zachary Woodlee, choreographers John DeLuca, Michael Rooney, Charles Klapow, Chicago director/choreographer Rob Marshall, Hairspray director/choreographer Adam Shankman, Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann, Across the Universe screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, film historian Sam Wasson, musicians/dancers Usher and Paula Abdul, and actors Harry Shum, Jr., Corbin Bleu, and Matthew Morrison.
“Generation” offers a mix of modern-day appreciation for Rain as well as some production facts about the flick. Overall, the program mixes those two moments well.
While we get the expected gushy fan notes, I do like that we learn about the film’s modern influence, and we get to see a variety of homages from recent years. Although I wouldn’t call this an essential documentary, it works better than most of its ilk.
The Blu-ray also offers a Jukebox. This essentially acts as a song-specific form of chapter search, though it comes with the ability to save your selections and program the soundtrack. This means you can listen to whatever songs you like in whatever order you prefer.
Note that the Blu-ray review linked above discussed a special boxed edition that included a second disc of extras as well as non-video materials. Those don’t re-appear here, but that doesn’t surprise me.
Arguably the greatest movie musical ever made, Singin’ In the Rain remains fresh and lively after 70 years. The film seems bright and funny and it usually avoids many of the pitfalls that disenchant me when I watch the genre. The 4K UHD delivers excellent visuals along with satisfactory audio and some good bonus materials. Singin’ in the Rain continues to enchant and this 4K UHD brings it to home video better than ever.
To rate this film, visit the Special Edition review of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN